Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thy Word IS Truth - Part 4

The Scriptures Have Been Perverted
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There are many reasons why people assert that the Scriptures have been perverted.
  • The Roman Catholic Church defined the canon of the Bible, and therefore it must be corrupt because that organization is corrupt.  
  • Scribes had to translate the Scriptures by hand in the early days, increasing the likelihood of error.
  • Men with political motivations had Scripture changed so as to accomplish their own purposes.
  • We don't have the original manuscripts, only copies; so we cannot possibly know what the original Scriptures said.
  • Translations from the original language of Scripture have caused it to lose its true meaning.
Yet regardless of the reason given, the end conclusion for these individuals is the same: we no longer have a complete and reliable source of Old Testament and New Testament Scripture which can be said to unequivocally be God's word.

You might be amazed how many professing Christians do not really believe that the Scriptures we possess today are the words of God.  The truth of the matter is that such beliefs say much more about their understanding of who God is than it does about the status of the Scripture.

It Is Written...

The video at the end of this article addresses many of the common objections raised about how the Scriptures have been perverted.  However, before that, I would like to raise one consideration for those who believe Scripture is corrupt: How do you explain Jesus Christ?

When Jesus was born, the earliest of the Scriptures (the Torah) had been in the Jews possession for well over 1,000 years.  Yet from its inception, the Torah was being copied.  Before he died, Moses made 13 handwritten copies of the Torah; one to reside in the Ark of the Covenant and the others provided to each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:9). Since then, God's people have been trusting in and routinely making copies of the Torah, calling them the "word/law of the Lord".

Not only were the Jews trusting in these copies, but later copies were also translated by them.  The primarily Hebrew text was translated into the Aramaic language (called the Targum) after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile; there are even multiple versions of the Targum.  Additionally, shortly before Jesus' ministry, yet another translation of the Torah was made as it was put into the Greek language (called the Septuagint). 

By the time of Jesus, the Scriptures had been copied innumerable times and translated several times.  This is certainly a tall order for us to grasp.  I mean everyone has played the "Telephone Game" where a person picks a phrase which is passed on person-by-person as each whispers it into the ear of the next individual.  How often is it that the ending phrase holds any resemblance to the original?  Are we really expected to believe that thousands of men down through over a thousand years had been able to transcribe by hand as well as translate a text without marring the essence of the words being copied?

Yet, Jesus surely believed this.  Jesus constantly referred the Jews to the Scriptures as evidence of the truth of His words and of His coming.   

The Scripture Cannot Be Broken

"...and the scripture cannot be broken" John 10:35b

In addressing one of the accusations made against Him, Jesus reminds the Jews that the Scripture cannot be broken.  The word broken above is the Greek word lyō which means: to unbind, destroy, break up, or deprive of authorityDo we believe that?

For Jesus, referring to what was written seemed to settle the matter and end all questions in His discussions with the religious leaders.  Jesus even blamed the Jews' antagonism against Him on their ignorance of the Scriptures, not on the corruption of the text (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24; Luke 24:27, 32; John 20:9).

This is astounding!  Was it not possible that some small modification or error in the Scriptures over all those years - even if unintentional - was the cause of their inability to recognize Him?  Not according to Jesus.  Not once did He cite issue with the authenticity of their Scriptures, but rather He had the expectation that each Jew knew "what saith the Lord" because of the Scriptures...and He held them accountable to that word.
Did ye never read in the scriptures...It is written...Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures...How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled...The scriptures must be fulfilled...He expounded unto them in all the scriptures...He opened to us the scriptures...Search the scriptures...Hath not the scripture said...
Consider also that the religious leaders to whom the Scriptures had been entrusted were continually rebuked by Jesus and said to not know the Father!  He called them hypocrites, vipers, and whited sepulchres.  Yet in spite of their corruption, He still believed that the Scriptures which they maintained were God's word.

So I ask again - for those who dispute the Scriptures - "How do you explain Jesus Christ?How could Jesus know with such certainty that the Scriptures in the Jews' possession were still reliable as the word of God? Was Jesus trusting in the presence of original manuscripts?  Did He have faith in one, pure "original" language?  Had He confidence in the virtue and righteousness of the men entrusted with the Scriptures?

No. Jesus' trust was in His Father alone.  He knew that God had not left the preservation of His word up to the devices of men. It occurs by a supernatural and sovereign decree of God! God had promised to preserve His word and He was more than able to do so (Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 24:35).  Jesus knew that the Scripture could not be broken. 

Some would have us to believe that - while God was able to preserve His word up until the time of Christ - somehow He was then rendered incapable of continuing to do so. Did God lose power and authority after the birth of the church?  Was the church (founded on a better covenant with better promises) actually made weaker in that it was unable to safeguard what God had been entrusting to His people for over 1,000 years?  Has God changed?

When people assert that the lack of original manuscripts, the presence of translations, the corruption of church leaders, or anything else has diluted the word of God, who are they really accusing?  God Himself.  The indirect assertion made is that God was either unable or unwilling to keep His promise.

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4

The Scriptures were written for our learning, our comfort, our hope, our edification, our admonition, our correction, and our instruction in righteousness (Romans 15:4;I Corinthians 10:1; II Timothy 3:16; I John 2:26, 5:13).  How can they serve this God-given purpose unless they be preserved? 

Now for me personally, I know the Scriptures to be the word of God primarily because God told me that they are.  However, the following video from Voddie Baucham examines the authenticity of Scripture from a historical perspective. 

Thy Word IS Truth Series

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